The tourism industry is booming. Whether you fit into the category of those who travel for business or for leisure, to sightsee or for escapism, there is no doubt that the appeal of travelling is universal to all ages, for many different reasons. But can this industry be revolutionised? With Artificial Intelligence (AI) no longer exclusive to sci-fi films, the new technology brings with it some exciting changes that could transform your travel experience, making the process easier, faster and more personalised.

Holiday bookings using AI

More than half of business travellers believe AI can make business trips safer, according to new research from expense, travel and invoice management firm SAP Concur. Already, AI in the travel sector is altering the way we search and book our travels. This is achieved through a variety of methods, from algorithms that are continuously refining how options are ranked on your favourite website, to opinions shared on social media. AI is assisting travel companies in providing tailored suggestions based on customers’ needs and desires. By using customer data based on past behaviours, the computer can generate predictions on future purchase actions, allowing companies to target customers more effectively and successfully.

Augmented hospitality

With the biggest firms relentlessly competing for their brand’s personal digital assistant to be the market leaders, some companies have begun to take the initiative of incorporating these devices into other industries. With the help of Marriott International, Amazon announced the debut of Alexa for Hospitality, whereby the company will implement Amazon’s smart home devices into hotel rooms, vacation rentals and other hospitality settings. By harnessing the power of the Internet of Things, voice assistants can give guests the opportunity to truly relax, by being able to control the temperature and lighting of their rooms, play music, make calls to reception, or even play entertainment on the television; all achieved by simply voicing the instruction.

However, Amazon is not alone in the bid to break into the hospitality industry. Businesses can now use ‘Actions of Google’ which is a platform where you can program actions that can run on Google Assistant software and can be used by a Google device. Chief Digital Officer of AccorHotels, Maud Bally, featured in Skift Megatreads, explains:

Since October, in France, the AccorHotels app was among the first available on the Actions of Google platform. Clients can therefore interact with Phil, our chatbot, on the available facilities such as parking spaces or meeting rooms, as well as finding practical information about the selected hotel such as opening hours or location, using Google Assistant through smartphones, Google Home, or any compatible device.

In the near future, our digital personal assistant Phil will assist clients in all other aspects of their journey including check-in, transportation, and restaurant bookings. Phil will therefore give our clients more time to fully enjoy their experience in our hotels, as they will be freed from the constraints that come with any normal trip. That is how we see digital: a tool for enabling exceptional service to our customers.

Robot staffed hotel

After a long, tiring day in the big city, you may want to avoid human interaction where possible. If that is the case, the robot-staffed Henn na Hotel in Japan could be the perfect rest place for you. The hotel’s staff of multilingual robots, from humanoid to dinosaur, are ready to greet you upon your arrival, assist you with check-in and checkout, while the robotic arm at the cloakroom will store your luggage. What’s more, in this hotel there is no more worrying about misplacing your key card, as facial recognition technology is used to enter your room. Not to mention, the hotel uses state-of-the-art technologies, including smart art conditioning systems, which can draw heat from your body to cool you down, or keep heat from escaping your body when you feel cold.

Evidently, AI’s role in tourism is already well underway. However, with Gartner’s research predicting that chatbots will account for 85% of all customer service by 2020, it is clear that there are still significant technological developments to come. The future of the travel industry due to these AI bots is promising for both the businesses and the user, from reducing overhead for all sectors by making cuts to human labour, to providing a seamless and personalised customer experience. In an era where customers want results and they want them instantaneously, AI is destined to have an invaluable role in revolutionising the travel industry.

Katie King, CEO of AI in Marketing, delivers training and keynote talks on AI globally. Katie will be speaking at the UKinbound ‘Tourism Marketing in a Digital Age Seminar’ being held in London on 11th September 2018 –

Katie is also delivering a webinar for AfricaCom on 13th – 15th November 2018 –

Or book onto one of our 90-minute online training courses on AI for business growth in Tourism. Here is an outline of our two day training course.